Django Unchained (2012) Director: Quentin Tarantino
Django follows the pattern of other recent Tarantino films – a historically revisionist revenge film that is entertaining, extremely violent, and playfully rife with allusions to classic cinema.
The story takes place in the antebellum south. A slave named Django (played by Jaime Foxx) is being dragged through the south on a chain with fellow slaves, until a German Dentist and Bounty Hunter (played by Christoph Waltz) suddenly arrives and frees him to help in the capture or killing of two notorious brothers on a plantation where Django used to live. In exchange he offers Django freedom and money. After they kill the brothers, Django decides to join him as a Bounty Hunter in an effort to eventually rescue his wife from the Candyland plantation. They devise a plan to rescue his wife from a greedy and evil slave-owner (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) but it backfires causing an all-out war on the plantation until many men are killed and Django is captured and tortured. He is sold to an Australian mining company that intends to work him to death, but Django persuades his guardians that they should return to Candyland to collect the Bounty on a man located there. He kills the guards, frees the fellow slaves, and rides off with dynamite back to Candyland. He kills everyone, frees his wife, and blows up the Candyland plantation as he and his wife ride off into the evening.
The name Django is a nod to a famous 1966 Corbucci Italian “Spaghetti Western”. It was known for being one of the most violent westerns of all time. In fact, the original actor playing Django, named Franco Nero, makes a cameo appearance in Django: Unchained. The film caused a minor uproar among some prominent American black leaders for its profane language and its dishonoring of the true nature of American slavery. Also, as with every Tarantino film, some criticized it for its graphic violence. The film was shot primarily in Louisiana and Wyoming.
The film is brilliant, to be sure, but far too extreme in its highly stylized and inaccurate portrayal of the antebellum south. Tarantino is like a kid in a candy store -self-indulgent, drawn to flashy explosions, and chooses a to embrace a selective memory for much of his film-making. He claims movies like Django help America deal with its uncomfortable past, but this reviewer is skeptical that Tarantino comes anything close to a “healer” of old wounds.